Peruvian woman walking in the forest ©Daniel Silva/WCS

Greater Madidi-Tambopata, Peru

Supporting local community farmers to return to forest-safe coffee-growing, not illegal coca

Help Trillion Trees recover lost Peruvian forest and jungle areas, while supporting smallholder farmers growing high-quality forest-friendly coffee.

Our Impact

Partnered with leading global coffee exporters, assisted farmers with technical improvements, helped restore the Yungas jungle ecosystem.

Trillion Trees partner WCS has already set up working arrangements with leading coffee export companies, notably Equal Exchange and Café Direct. They have also struck agreements with the local Coffee Cooperatives of the Sandia Valley (CECOVASA), working with 1,000 Peruvian farmers on pilot plots to test various coffee-growing approaches. With WCS support, farmers have already started to improve the productivity and quality of their coffee by exploring different technical options – in crop management, soil fertilisation and disease-resistant plant varieties. 

In the past few years WCS has also been working with local governments on restoration/recovery of the Yungas – high-altitude humid jungle ecosystems. This has involved identifying and prioritising deforested or degraded areas to restore, and establishing a municipal forest nursery to produce seedlings for reforesting.

Our target

  • Pressure reduced on 500,000 hectares of forest.
  • Improved management or restoration of 3,000 hectares.
  • Over 5,000 smallholder coffee farmers engaged and supported.
  • Yield and quality of coffee production improved.
  • Deforestation commitments achieved – saving 0.12Mt CO2 eq.

How we do it

Supporting local coffee cooperatives and global exporters, encouraging sustainable agroforestry options, reforesting cleared areas and restoring degraded forests.

Building on WCS’s Forest First approach, we are currently working with more than 5,000 smallholder farmers – from the local Quechua and Aymara indigenous communities – to help improve their livelihoods. In collaboration with the CECOVASA coffee cooperative, we are reducing the pressure on forests and biodiversity in the high-integrity forests of the Madidi-Tambopata watershed. WCS funds training and other services for participating farmers, and is helping them explore long-term partnerships with key international coffee exporters. These approaches help improve financial returns from coffee farming – when farmers earn more, they can access additional finance, laying the groundwork for self-sufficiency and future sustainable production. In return, the farmers commit to maintaining good agricultural practices and zero deforestation. 

For the emblematic Yungas ecosystems, where we are regrowing native trees such as Quina (the bark of which provides quinine) and the conifer Podocarpus, we have two strategies, depending on the situation:

  1. Reforestation in cleared areas – which is done at a rate of 1,000 trees planted per hectare.
  2. Enrichment planting in partially degraded forest – at a lower rate of 200 trees per hectare.

The planting methodology and criteria also vary with the landscape’s ecology and topography – for example the slope of the land, the distance to water sources, local vegetation, and current land use. Restoration work is carried out in collaboration with local authorities, following an assessment of priority areas. We also encourage farmers to complement their coffee with other crops – including cocoa, maize or beans – or else with ecotourism. And avoiding ubiquitous coca crops. Re-planting and re-growing forests improves the protection of local water sources too.


Why Madidi-Tambopata

The varied landscape and climate of the Madidi-Tambopata region has created a highly biodiverse ecosystem. And some of the best-quality coffee in the world.

The Greater Madidi-Tambopata is in south-eastern Peru, on the Bolivian border. The landscape ranges from high Andean mountains through a variety of cloud and montane forest, down to vast Amazonian floodplains, covered with rainforest and tropical grasslands. It is a hotspot for plant and animal diversity, with a high number of endemic species. It is estimated there are around 12,000 types of plant, and around 300 species of mammal – including the spectacled bear, jaguar, and a variety of monkeys – brown and grey woolly monkeys among them. And an astonishing 1,100 types of bird – 11% of all the bird species on the planet – including uniquely local birds such as the Andean condor and iconic Andean cock-of-the rock.

Agriculture, expanding settlements and road development are the main drivers of forest destruction and biodiversity loss here. There was a disastrous upturn in deforestation between 2014-2015, when coffee plant disease (yellow rust fungus) wiped out many coffee plantations and left them abandoned. To replace this lost income, many farmers switched to citrus-growing and/or illegal production of coca leaf (the plant from which cocaine is produced). Both of these involved additional forests being cleared, and polluting chemicals used. Now, with the coffee blights well managed, smallholder farmers are able to return to cultivating high-quality coffee – but their success is hindered by low prices, limited technical support and lack of access to capital. Hence this project, to help encourage them back into sustainable and forest-friendly coffee production. 

Partners and Contributors

Lead partner: WCS